October 2019 Photo Update
Dear <<First Name>>,
There is much to celebrate again this month. We are very grateful for your consistent prayers. We really appreciate and feel these each day, as scheduling and opportunities have become a bit more challenging this year. Please keep our staff in Leyte and Mindanao in prayer, as they will continue to travel to many old and new areas in the coming weeks.
Last week, we traveled to celebrate the 14th anniversary of the Salumay Mission Center. This center is our primary partner for the projects in Datu Salumay, especially at the Balay Pasilungan. We celebrated together the many things God has done, including the provision of a new church building. The lead photo on the newsletter is one of the Matigsalug children who stays at the Balay Pasilungan and was able to attend the anniversary.
October was a birthday month for some of our valued staff members. Arlene, a former long-term scholarship recipient, is now partially supported by SOD in her teaching role at the Davao School for the Blind. She turned 24 in September and was prayed over by the mothers and children at the SOD R.E.S.T House (RH), where she is living and still volunteers.
Behind Arlene in the above photo is Rhea Delle. She is so happy as she was able to take the board exam and is now awaiting the results to allow her to become a Licensed Professional Teacher. Rhea Delle is also a long-term scholarship recipient and is living at the RH and volunteers there. We changed the name from the "Care Center" to the R.E.S.T. House this month. The letters stand for R = Restore, E = Encourage, S = Strengthen and T= Transform.
We also celebrated the birthday of our Office Manager, Nathalie at the RH. Nathalie helps to lead a morning devotion and prayer session each Wednesday and has bonded quickly with the mothers and children. A new employee, Geraldine (also known as Inday), is our Spiritual Ministries Worker at the RH and also is helping with the children's ministries at the Tebow Cure Hospital, two days a week. She is pictured in front on the left.
Sometimes, we are called upon to do some unusual and long-term transports for the patients from the Tebow Cure Hospital. Ara Jane and her mother were taken home by SOD staff via the L300 vehicle. This was an all day journey to reach their place and return to Davao. Praises for the safe travels and prayers still for her recovery. Ara Jane also stayed at the RH for several weeks during her time in Davao.
We have been hosting many prosthetic and other surgery cases at the RH. Over 20 families were blessed with a place to stay in September allowing the children to have surgeries, physical therapy, gait training, etc. at the Tebow Cure Hospital. Many are from Leyte Island and some of the farthest corners of Mindanao Island. We are grateful for the opportunity to minister to so many families. Thanks to the many donors who allow us to serve these families.
Saying "hello" and "goodbye" is always difficult. Most cases will return more than four times to Davao. Once there is a 4-6 week break or more in their treatment, they go back home and return for their next appointments. They often travel 18-24 hours by bus to go back to their homes and also to return to Davao.
Buying the first shoes after clubfoot castings, surgeries and receiving prosthetic devices, is always a special time. This month we are having the blessing of shopping with many families and sending them home in their new shoes. They always want to wear them as they are leaving the store.
We celebrate as put put drivers are now completing their four year agreement. The first three units, Sierra Bible #1, #2 and #3 were turned over the the drivers this month. In the coming months, several families will receive ownership of their units. Our annual put put reunion in November, will have 60 families in attendance. We are also in process of turning over 40+ boats for ownership as their four year agreement period has also been successfully completed.
Our travels to distribute Bibles have been a bit more "sensitive" this month, as we were able for the first time to reach areas which have been off limits for peace and order reasons. 800 Bibles were given to mostly tribal pastors in September. Both distributions required a two-day round trip, journey. We were also able to bless the pastors with clothing and some bumper stickers. Another distribution is planned for October 24th and a second one in December. Both of these are areas in which we have not been able to directly give Bibles. Please be in prayer for safe travels and that the Bibles will reach the hands of new believers in these areas.
We still receive many requests for books for classrooms. At the Aplaya Elementary School, we were able to loan books to each classroom for their required daily reading time. One of the barriers to having a reading time in the rural areas, is the lack of books. Praise God we are able to provide books to each of the areas where we have community based feeding programs.
We celebrate local and international partners who help at the Balay Pasilungan and in other ways in Datu Salumay. A local church in Davao helps to provide supplies each month for the children living at the Balay Pasilungan and also supports ten scholarships for Grade 11 students for tribal children who attend the Marilog High School of Agriculture.
We celebrate that we are now half way through the school year and the feeding programs continue to be very successful. Our partnership sites report a consistent weight gain of the students over the first semester. We are also praising God for open doors at each site for spiritual feeding as well.
Each day, we are blessed to work with the Tebow Cure Hospital. We often travel with their staff to mobile screening clinics to help with processing of patients and assisting in different roles as needed. We are working on two joint clinics in areas where Bible distributions are planned, using the pastors as contacts for finding and ministering to patients.
It is a joy to serve in partnership with you. As stated earlier, there are many challenges and opportunities. The same vehicles and staff which on Mondays and Thursdays are helping medical cases, are the ones who travel to Marliog and Atan Owe for ministry and feeding programs on Tuesdays.....and then on Fridays to other areas and out again for Bible distributions. Many are involved in speaking or leading churches on Sundays, manage youth activities; we all help with patient discharges along the way. God allows us to juggle a lot of schedules for buying shoes, prosthetic gait training, for prayer and devotion times with communities, to lead churches and youth centers, to oversee livelihood programs and many other duties.
Grateful for your prayers and financial support.
Peter Cowles for the board, staff and many blessed recipients of your prayers and generosity